LAIRD TOWNSHIP HISTORY
The area which is now known as the Township of Laird was originally part of a reserve set aside for the Ojibway. After the Canadian government and the Ojibway signed the Huron-Robinson Treaty in 1850, government officials sent surveyors into this area to examine the territory and in 1875 it was subdivided into sections and quarter sections. The Crown Land Inspector for the area was Mr. J. Laird, but it was his younger brother, David Laird, the first Lieutenant Governor of the North West Company, whom the Township of Laird was named after. Sixteen years following its official survey, in 1891, the Township of Laird was incorporated as the municipality which is known today.
This township first witnessed lasting settlement beginning around 1874 and it increased with the completion of the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1887. Prior to 1874 however, records indicate that many people had already emigrated into the region. As indicated in the book, Laird Chronicles, the early residents settled on land close to the Bar River. This gave them an advantageous location to accessible transportation. In time, a viable community, Bar River, flourished. Like all early settlements, the emphasis was on the family unit and neighbourly comradeship. This ideology still prevails through the Township of Laird today.
One of the chief attractions of this region was its agricultural capability. When the surveyors released their reports, their analysis stated that the area known as Laird Township had good quality land, including several tracts of open prairie land. Many settlers grabbed at this opportunity and moved their families to this area. For many, their legacy and hardship triumphs with the distinction of being classified as a “Century Farm”, a farm which has been in the same family for at least 100 years. As one travels through the area, one will notice the dominating presence of the agricultural industry.
Another active industry in Laird’s early years was lumbering. In the late 1800s, some residents ventured into saw mills. This lasted well into the early twentieth century. Throughout the course of Laird’s development, a variety of businesses have prospered and dwindled. There was a post office, a black smith, several general stores, a cheese and butter factory, and for a while, Laird had its own quarry which produced Silica, an alloy used in the steel making process. The entrepreneurial drive of the local population continues today.
From an historical perspective, Laird’s development evolved similar to those of other rural communities where family, friendship, and strong will persisted. It is these characteristics which define the community of Laird Township. For more information on Laird’s history visit the historical centre or refer to Laird Chronicles.